Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dessert? In a Tandoor Oven? You Betcha, In My Pandemic Diwali Feast. Part: 3

Usually, we have a lot of folks over during Diwali for a big feed. This year however, plans are changed due to Covid. This isn't the first time a planned Diwali feast has been scuttled. Once there were heavy rains and a power outage, twice there were wildfire evacuations, and once my stove died. This year of course, we're all staying close to home because of Covid so my big dinner, which usually looks something like this.... now more like something in the Soup For One Lonely Guy universe. It's just us chickens, or rather just us, and a Siberian Husky.

Luckily, I now have a Tandoor oven and that makes all the difference. So I whipped up a multi course dinner for just family in my backyard tandoor and it made a simple meal special. I was even able to cook my dessert in it. Dessert? In a tandoor? Yes indeedy. One can't just plunge anything into hot coals and fire and expect it to come out dessert, but there are certain things that just work and one of them is pineapple.

As someone who grew up in an Italian household, my experience with pineapple was definitely NOT on pizzas. Pineapple, or rather badly burnt pineapple was what we usually lifted off my moms Easter ham with tongs. No one wanted to eat it. It resembled some sort of burnt rubber gasket, and sort of tasted like that too. It was enough to put me off pineapple for a good many years. Then I discovered it didn't have to be like that. Pineapple could be delicious cold, in ice creams or sorbets, as cake fillings, or in a chutney. So, when I had the idea of putting pineapple near fire and coals again, that old childhood trauma came back. I wasn't going to deliberately incinerate a delicious piece of fruit. I was NOT my mother.

That's around the time I noticed an intriguing dish called Tandoori Ananas, or Pineapple, glazed and roasted in a tandoori oven. Nothing wrong with that! But I was still scared about cooking a dessert in a flaming hot pit. So of course I did what I always do when I'm scared of something, I try to do it. I'm glad I did. This can be made on a grill, or under a broiler, but dang, that tandoor oven really does the job. And it's easy too. As easy as Pineapple.

Tandoori Ananas


Here's what you need:

1 Pineapple

1 star anise, broken into pieces

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 Tbs of honey

1 pinch of chili powder. (I used Kashmiri chili)


Here's What To Do:

First cut open your pineapple. 

Twist off the top.

Split it in half lengthwise.Trim the core off, and cut around the pineapple meat.

Then cut horizontally and make chunks. It's pretty easy.

Break out the star anise. And break one into pieces and set it aside.

Poke a piece of star anise into each chunk of pineapple.

Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan on the stove.

When they're toasted, crush them  in a mortar and pestle, and put them in a bowl together with the honey...

...and the chili

Thread the pieces of pineapple on a skewer...

...and brush them with the spice honey mixture.

Next, start your engines...that is fire up your tandoor oven, grill or broiler. Your tandoor should be at about 450 degrees.

Place the pineapple in the tandoor oven... slid the cover closed...

...and cook. Keep an eye on it and rotate your skewers, this cooks fast! Actually everything in a tandoor cooks fast which is why it's so much fun to use.

When it starts to char a bit, it's done.

Take it out of the oven, brush it with the glaze once again and slide it off the skewers onto your plate.I'd say right into your pie hole but these suckers are hot., so be careful.

I served this with some homemade Rose Pistachio ice cream. I make this ice cream frequently but I'd never done this with it before.The pineapple and the rose and pistachio really worked well together. Totally festive even if it was just us!

So there it is. My pandemic Diwali Feast  made entirely in my Homdoor Tandoori Oven

I'll be making this again and I'm not waiting for Diwali to roll around to do it! Coming up next, a vegan chocolate pudding made from oat milk, and some other quarantine treats for all the holidays coming soon.

Meanwhile, follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

When Eggplant Is More Than An Just An Emoji! Diwali Feasting in The Time of A Pandemic. Part 2...

We grow a LOT of what we eat around here. One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. In my Italian-American family we ate a LOT of eggplant. It was cheap and extremely versatile. We put it in sauces, on pizzas, we Parmed it, and it was always a great meaty substitute for the real deal when  things were tight and payday seemed a million miles away. 

Each year I plant about 3 or 4 different varieties of eggplant. I plant round Thai eggplant, little finger eggplants, classic Italian eggplant, Chinese eggplant and of course, Indian eggplant. I love all of them and while most can be switched up to cover almost any recipe, one of my favorites is the Japanese eggplant. I thought I'd had it a million different ways and then 30 years ago I started cooking Indian food and discovered another million ways I'd missed. Then a Year ago I was given a Homdoor Tandoori Oven and for the first time I cooked eggplant tandoori style. Wow!

This is a very simple dish, using a few basic spices, no marinating, just a salt soak for the eggplant, and you're done. It can also be roasted on the grill... but hey... once you try this out of a tandoor oven you'll not want to go back. I used Japanese eggplants for this dish but you can use any sort, just cut it to shape.


Tandoori Eggplant

Here's What You Need:

3 Japanese eggplants,  cut into 1 and 1/2 inch wedges.

1 Tbs of vinegar... but NOT Red Wine Vinegar. This recipe calls for something different. I'd recommend, Malt Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar, Banana Vinegar, or what I used.... Pineapple Vinegar from Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo

1 cup of thick Greek yogurt 

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 Tbs grated fresh ginger

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil

1 red onion cut into thin slices

1 tsp sugar

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

fresh mint leaves

lime wedges 


Here's What To Do:

Cut the  eggplants into 1 and 1/2 inch chunks. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 Tbs of salt and let the eggplant sit int the salt for 1 and 12 hours. this removes any bitterness from the eggplant. 

After it's salt nap, take the eggplant chunks and rinse the salt off thoroughly.

Pat the eggplant pieces dry and let them set a bit while you mix up the marinade.

Mix up your vinegar...

...tomato paste...



... paprika and oil...

...and blend all of  it into the yogurt...

...brush your skewers with oil...

...and thread the eggplant pieces on to the skewers.

This is when I lit my tandoor, you want the heat hot hot hot for cooking these. They cook very quickly. The Homdoor Tandoor gets super hot quite fast. If you're using a regular BBQ you want to light it up about now.

While your fire is getting to the right temperature, time to pickle the onions.

Take your red onion rings and place them in a bowl with the white wine vinegar,  sugar, and 1 tsp of salt.

Stir everything around and let the onion slices cure while you are cooking.

When your Tandoor, or grill is at about 400 degrees F, time to get cooking.

Baste the eggplant chunks with the yogurt marinade...

...and angle the skewers into your tandoor oven, or place them on the grill

Keep an eye on them so they don't burn. Rotate the skewers so they cook evenly on all sides.

After about 5 minutes or so check them if you're using a tandoor oven.. these things cook FAST. On a regular BBQ grill it might take between 10 and 20 minutes. There's no set time, it depends on the heat of your fire.

When they're cooked through and nicely charred, take the eggplant out of the tandoor.

Get ready to serve it up.

Slide the eggplant chunks off the skewer

Serve them with the pickled red onion slices, and a scattering of fresh mint.

Squeeze a lime wedge over the eggplant and you are good to go!!!

this is so easy and quick that I know it's going to be a tandoor staple around here since I have so many eggplants. You can serve this with any meal, American or Indian cuisine. It's a great addition to any sort of BBQ, and if you want to make a total tandoori meal, add more veg dishes, rice, and chapattis for a vegetarian meal. This is also the perfect veg side dish that compliments any entree meat or fish.

  I served this with  tandoori chicken

a cucumber and dal salad 

... chapattis...

...and of course....dessert, also cooked in the Tandoor, that is coming up next! Tandoor Pineapple with rose pistachio ice cream. A nearly all Tandoor meal, so stick around, Diwali starts on  Nov 14th, there's going to be alot of good eating around here, even if it's just us this year. Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Diwali Feasting in The Time of Pandemic. All Tandoor, All The Time!! (Part 1)

Ever since I started cooking Indian food 30 years ago, I've always enjoyed throwing a big Diwali feast for friends and family. No matter what, through all sorts of ups and downs, wildfires, floods, I've always managed to cook a big Diwali dinner. 

Except this year. 

I had Covid back in early March and spent two months in isolation, including my birthday, sick with it. I never want to go through that again, nor do I want any family and friends to have to, so I figured this would be a year without dinner parties, BBQs , etc. I was perfectly fine with that. Everything we've eaten in this house since late Feb, was either grown and cooked by me, (or Alan while I was sick) or just plain cooked by me. I bake our bread, and make our ice cream, and yeah do I wish I could eat out and have someone else besides the two of us cooking? Damn right I do, but as long as that's as risky as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, I'm not doing it. Nope. Nada. Nein, No Way.

So now that the Festival of Lights is coming up fast, and social distancing is still a must around here, what to do? Why not a scaled down Diwali? But what to cook? I couldn't see prepping 8 to 10 dishes just for us. That's when my friends at Homdoor Tandoori Ovens suggested why not fire up the old Tandoor for a simpler, easier, and yet still totally festive meal. So that's just what I did.

Since it was a holiday meal and I was using the tandoor oven, I departed from my usual fish or veg main course and  decided on Tandoori Chicken as the main, with a Tandoori eggplant dish with pickled onions, a simple Indian cucumber and dal salad, and chapattis. As for dessert, since the tandoor was already all fired up, why not cook dessert in it too? So I did. Ananas Tandoor, which is tandoor marinated and roast pineapple served with rose pistachio ice cream (definitely NOT made in the tandoor) and chai for dessert. 

We serve meat around here maybe once or twice a year. It usually always involves holiday cooking for friends and family, but since that wasn't going to be happening this year I figured I'd just act as if, and serve some chicken anyway. Tandoori Chicken to be exact.

I've been making tandoori chicken for years on an outdoor grill or in an oven since I've never owned an actual Tandoor until recently. It's a different experience cooking in one, but if you've ever done any sort of simple BBQ'ing, it's not difficult. I've always used Madhur Jaffreys marinade recipe for  this dish, and it truly takes very little prep. The marinade makes up the day before, the chicken is skinned and then put in it to rest overnight in the fridge. The next day, fire your cooker up and start grilling!

Tandoori Chicken


Here's What You Need:

1 Medium sized onion, peeled and chopped

6 whole shallots or garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

A 2 inch long knob of ginger peeled and chopped

3 Tbs fresh lemon juice

8 oz plain yogurt

1 Tbs ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

4 Tbs vegetable oil

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper 

1 tsp orange food coloring

Chicken (I used  3 large bone-in skin-on breasts, but of course this marinade is enough to cover 6 chicken legs and 3 breasts cut in half)


Here's What To Do:

Put the chopped onions, garlic or shallots, ginger, and lemon juice into a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth paste

Place the paste in a bowl large enough to hold the marinade and the chicken you are working with.


Add in the yogurt,

Your spices

coriander, cumion, turmeric

garam masala, mace, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, salt, pepper, kashmiri chili, food coloring, and stir it all together


Like this

 Now, remove the skin from your chicken breasts

Cut each one in half

Slash the chicken breasts halfway down to the bone to let the marinade sink in 

Put the chicken into the marinade and rub it in well, make sure  you get the marinade into the slashes.

Place the chicken into the marinade, cover it tightly and place it into the fridge for 24 hours.

Now to cook....

If you are working with a tandoor oven, light it. When the tandoor is up to about 750 degrees you are ready to cook. For a regular BBQ, light it and get ready to grill.

If cooking in a tandoor, oil your skewers, thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers. Stick a half of a large peeled onion on the end of the skewers that ought to keep the chicken in place and prevent it from falling off the skewers.

Place the skewers into the tandoor and angle them so that they're leaning against one side of it. Partially cover the tandoor to keep the heat in and cook for 10 minutes, occasionally rotate the chicken skewers so that the chicken cooks on all sides. Check after 10 minutes, if it's not cooked through give it a few more minutes. At this high heat it doesn't take too long before things are done.

Lift the cooked chicken skewers  out of the tandoor

Slide the chicken off the skewers, garnish with chopped cilantro, pickled onions,  and lemon wedges

In all the times I've ever made tandoori chicken, this was the easiest, since I wasn't fiddling with charcoal, wood, and temperature changes. The tandoor oven is rock steady heatwise, which is a BIG help in this sort of cooking. 

Tandoor Chicken despite all the different spices found in the dish is really very easy to prepare The other dishes coming up shortly.  

Eggplant Tandoor with Mint

The  Cucumber and Dal Salad recipe is   here 

and of course,

Tandoori roast pineapple and rose pistachio ice cream

So even though you may not be cooking for the usual crowd this year, here's a simple Diwali dinner for just family. Stay tuned for the for rest of the recipes, coming soon. 

Meanwhile follow along on Twitter  @kathygori







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